parsley and pecan pesto

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Last week I thought I was at the end of my rope. Our little guy just turned four months and had decided that he wouldn’t nap anywhere else but on me or in the car. Being a stay at home mom, I don’t get breaks like normal people do, so the break I get at nap time is highly coveted. That is the time where I get to do normal human things like take a shower, eat a quick meal and maybe squeeze in some dish washing. However, when nap time didn’t happen or it would only happen in my arms, I slowly turned into a zombie and it was all I could do to not guzzle the nearest bottle of wine and call it a night. I told my husband that I was nearing the edge and just one more day of no breaks could shove me right over, so he graciously took the weekend to train our son how to nap in the pack n play. Now, after this glorious Monday filled with three long naps, a fantastic lunch and some time in the pool, I feel like Wonder Woman. In fact, as soon as the babe was down for the night, I danced into the kitchen and I cooked up a very tasty pasta dish using this pesto. This my friends, has been an excellent Monday, one I’d like to repeat many times over. Good thing for wonderful husbands and their freakish ability to power through all the crying.

This pesto is a great way to finish off the herbs in the fridge. I have wasted so much money buying herbs and then leaving most of them to turn into brown sludge in the crisper. It’s the perfect sauce to have on hand since it goes well with just about anything and makes quick work of weekday meals. Spread some on a slice of bread and plop a runny egg on top, toss with some freshly cooked pasta and top with a scoop of lemony ricotta or stir it into a pile of sautéed vegetables. This was my first time making pesto and I’m completely hooked. I just hope you have better luck not eating it straight out of the jar with a large spoon.  (more…)

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August 19, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , . condiment, quick and easy, sauces, vegetarian. 2 comments.

Roma

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The past six days in Rome, Italy have been a whirlwind of complete bliss. We have indulged in some of the best food we have ever had and have fueled our waking hours with many a cappuccino. We have walked on marble that once was the foundation for a thriving civilization and have witnessed astounding works of art and architecture. We have walked around for hours upon hours, enjoying the best the city has to offer being consistently amazed by one giant building after another that dates back to a time unimaginable to me. The large scale of the city has been even more astonishing than I thought it would be, although after getting to know the ancient Romans a little more this week, I imagine that is exactly how they wanted it. Everything they built was larger than life and was a reflection of their place in the world as the largest empire of their time.

The Italians we have had the pleasure of spending any time with were some of the warmest people we have encountered. On the second full day we were there we took a cooking class and gourmet tour from a local chef named Fabio. He was funny and knowledgeable and a darn good cook. We spent the first hour or so touring the Jewish ghetto where he showed us the best places in the city for bread, cured meat, pizza bianca and this incredibly tasty and super secretive ricotta chocolate cake. Apparently the little old ladies that make the cakes are famous for them. Legend has it that the most famous chef in all of Israel came to them asking to trade recipes and they told him it would better for him to keep his and they’ll keep theirs. I have to say, I now understand the reason he would be willing to give up all of his recipes for just that one, that cake is absolutely unforgettable.

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After our tour, we ended up at Fabio’s apartment where we suited up and started cooking right away. We made beef stock that would be the seasoning for our sauces and risotto later on, we mixed up two types of pasta dough, one with eggs and one without, and we prepped side dishes to accompany the main entree. It was a lot of work, but felt nothing like it as we constantly had our eyes peeled for what Fabio would do next.

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When it came time to form the pasta we were split into couples and were each assigned a different pasta. It was so much fun to see how easy it is to make incredibly delicious pasta with just a couple of ingredients. We rolled and cut and shaped until we had enough pasta to feed the whole building.

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We made five courses in all and finished with the ricotta chocolate cake as our sixth. By the end of our meal no one could move. I really wish I had worn stretchy pants, that’s for sure.

Romanesco with sausage and hand rolled short pasta

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Red wine and sausage risotto

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Pasta Puttanesca

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Artichoke and sausage stuffed ravioli

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Chicken stuffed with smoked mozzarella and sausage, wrapped in speck (served with cheesy baked potatoes)

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The famous ricotta chocolate cake. What I wouldn’t do for a slice right now!

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I hope your Christmas holiday is delightful. As much as I am enjoying my time here with the hubs, I must say I miss being with all of the family for Christmas. I’ll have to try to pull it together as we now walk the streets of the city of light. I’m sure we’ll manage, just know we will be thinking of you!

Until next time, au revoir!

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December 23, 2011. Tags: , , . Italian, pizza, winter. 1 comment.

homemade sausage ravioli with marinara

Lately we have been sharing our home with close friends and family who are in need of a warm home and an uncomfortable futon to crash on. I love having guests to share our house with because it’s no fun to keep it all to ourselves. Of course, when there are guests, I want to cook and it just so happens that I have been given a fancy new tool and I need to break it in: a Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller and Cutter.

click here for more on homemade ravioli->

April 1, 2010. Tags: , . Italian, sauces. 1 comment.

local fare

baby carrots

San Francisco is a wonderful place to live. It’s like no other city. If you have never visited, please do, and if it strikes your fancy, drop on by for dinner. We’d love to have you.

There are a couple of fantastic farmers markets here in the city. The most notable is the Ferry Building Farmers Market. This takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It is such a lovely indulgence of the senses. Beautiful color, interesting people, wonderful smells, and of course superb food. All of the vendors with whom we had the pleasure to meet, were extremely helpful. People that grow their own food really know it well. This is very helpful for me as the consumer. I was looking for some salad greens that would go well with a pasta and proscuitto salad and we were introduced to baby chard by a weathered man who knew his salad greens. He gushed about it’s saltiness and the way it shines when flash cooked. We took home a huge bag of it, and fell in love.

The husband and I were having some dinner company and I wanted to do my very best to get local food. Local, fresh food. For the most part we succeeded. Along with the baby chard, we made it home with baby carrots, italian parsley, and a couple of well priced pork tenderloins from the local butcher. pork tenderloin

I paired the pork tenderloin and baby carrots with a warm pasta salad. The salad looked nice in the picture, but I was a little worried about how it would taste. However, it was intriguing enough to make me want to try it, and let me tell you what, it was good. We nearly finished the whole thing between the three of us.

pasta and proscuitto salad

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Baby Carrots
serves 6
Bon Appetit, April 2009

Ingredients:

Carrots:

  • 2 pounds baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, leaving 1/2 inch of green tops attached
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño (preferably red), seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder**
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Pork:

  • 2 1-to 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika***
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:

For carrots:
Arrange carrots on large rimmed baking sheet. Whisk 2 tablespoons water and all remaining ingredients in small bowl; pour over carrots and toss to coat. Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Toss to coat before continuing.

For pork:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast carrot mixture covered until just tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange pork tenderloins on another rimmed baking sheet. Stir oregano, cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in small bowl; rub mixture all over tenderloins. Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Return to rimmed baking sheet.

Remove foil from carrots. Nestle pork among carrots on baking sheet, arranging carrots in single layer around pork. Roast uncovered until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, stirring carrots occasionally if beginning to caramelize, about 18 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer pork to work surface. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange carrots on platter. Top with pork slices, drizzling any pan juices over.

* I didn’t use honey because I felt that the carrots would already be fairly sweet on their own. I was right.

** This was not something I had in my pantry so I just used plain old chili powder.

*** Also, another thing that I tragically do not have in my pantry. I used regular Paprika, but next time I will have and use the smoked kind because it’s so good.

Pasta with Peas, Asparagus, Butter Lettuce and Proscuitto
serves 6-8
Bon Appetit, April 2009

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter*
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • 1/2 pound spring onions or green onions (dark green parts discarded); white parts cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, pale green parts cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 pounds peas in pods)
  • 1 pound campanelle (trumpet-shaped pasta) or medium (about 1-inch) shell-shaped pasta
  • 1 head of butter lettuce or Boston lettuce (about 6 ounces), cored, leaves cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices**
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Preparation:

Melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallot. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Sauté until tender (do not brown), about 8 minutes. Add wine; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer; set aside.

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus. Using skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl of ice water. Return water to boil. Add peas and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Using skimmer, transfer to bowl with asparagus. Drain vegetables.

Return water in pot to boil. Cook pasta until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, reheat onion mixture. Add lettuce and stir just until wilted, about 1 minute. Add drained asparagus and peas; stir until heated through.***

Add pasta, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, and parsley to skillet with vegetables; toss, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle prosciutto over; drizzle with olive oil. Serve, passing more cheese alongside.

* I ommitted the butter. I thought that the oil was enough.

** I used baby chard. It was yummy.

*** After reading reviews for this recipe, I decided to not wilt the lettuce at this step. I just stirred it in at the end with the hot pasta and a splash of pasta water. It was wilted perfectly. I think it would be pretty limp and wimpy if it was wilted the way the recipe suggests.

August 15, 2009. Tags: , , , , , . pork, salads, sides. 2 comments.